|THE system for
electing most MSPs using first-past-the-post should be
scrapped and replaced with proportional representation, an
ex-minister at Westminster said yesterday.
George Foulkes, formerly deputy
secretary of state for Scotland, put forward the radical
proposal as part of his amendment to the new Scottish
Parliament Constituencies Bill, which seeks to retain 129 MSPs
and is due to be debated in the Commons soon.
For some MPs, Mr Foulkes included,
a major problem lies in the fact that there will be different
constituency boundaries for Westminster and Holyrood. This is
because the number of MPs is being cut from 72 to 59 and new
boundaries are being created. The MSPs will stick to the old
ones. Mr Foulkes believes this will lead to confusion among
voters and is proposing an "elegant solution"
whereby two MSPs are elected using the new boundaries, giving
118 MSPs, plus 11 more elected for Scotland as a whole ’Äì
retaining 129 members.
However, the MP for Carrick, Cumnock
and Doon Valley also wants to eliminate the problems he sees
between constituency MSPs and list MSPs; his solution is to
have them all elected by PR with the system chosen by the
"We have a serious problem of
non-common boundaries looming, coupled with the continuing
clash between constituency and list MSPs," noted Mr
Foulkes. He said his suggestion for two MSPs per constituency
would roughly retain the balance between parties in Scotland
and, with only 11 list MSPs, "rivalries would be reduced
to a minimum".
However, the SNP dismissed Mr
Foulkes's amendment, insisting it should not be for MPs to
"fiddle with Scotland's democracy" and "lay
down the law to the Scottish Parliament".